The answer just might surprise you...
When I closed my business over a year and a half ago, it was because I felt the Lord calling me to focus more of my time and energy on "ministry", rather than running a business. Any business owner will tell you, that it can consume all of your time, energy and your life if you're not careful. There is always something else that needs to be done.
I had felt the pull toward focused "ministry" for years and continually prayed that if the Lord wanted me to close the studio, that He would make it obvious to me and my husband. However, I always saw my business as a "ministry". My clients knew where I stood with the Lord because I talked about Him freely. I played Christian music in my studio. I had scripture on the walls. I asked the Lord daily to minister to my clients through me. There were times when I would spend more time talking to a client about the Lord and praying with them than creating portraits. But the "business" still required a lot, if not most of my physical, and mental time and energy. I always knew that my business belonged to God and He had the freedom to do with it what He wanted at any time. We jokingly said that my business was a ministry disguised as a portrait studio.
But in 2017, I felt a strong prompting of the Lord to close the business. My husband and I agreed to pray over that decision for a specific time-period and literally two days before that deadline, I heard a clear word from the Lord to close the business. So, I informed my clients of my decision the following Monday. Of course, they wanted to know why I was closing. After eleven years, I had finally reached my business and artistic goals and enjoyed an excellent reputation. Some of my last portrait sessions garnered five figures each and the clients writing those checks could not understand why I was closing my studio. I was able to use that as a witnessing tool unto the Lord, to show them that nothing this world had to offer, be it money, reputation, or accolades, even remotely compared to the value found in my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I told them that I felt the Lord calling me to "full-time ministry". That statement became an inside joke with some close friends of ours that first year because I didn't know exactly what that entailed. All I knew was what I believed the Lord was telling me to do. The Lord has since shown me that our definition of "full-time ministry" isn't necessarily God's definition, hence the idea behind this post.
Every born-again, follower of Jesus Christ is called to full-time ministry. That's right - Full-Time Ministry!
Most people think that means that a person works in a church or serves somewhere in a religious organization as ordained clergy. Sometimes it does mean that, but not always.
When I told people that the Lord was calling me to "full-time ministry", many of them wanted to know exactly what that meant, but God didn't give me all the details upfront. He simply told me to close my successful business and trust Him, and that is what we did. After much prayer, and with my husband's support, we walked away from a successful business that I had poured my heart and life into for eleven plus years. It meant walking away from the excellent reputation I had worked so hard to build and so much more. It was a real test and strengthening of our faith. It meant a lot of things, but mostly, it meant that I would no longer be tied down to the studio and the business - physically or mentally and would be able to focus more on "ministry"...whatever that meant.
I figured that I would be reading and studying scripture more, writing more, speaking and sharing my testimony more. I figured I would be meeting with women one-on-one more, and be available to serve more in general and praise God, it has meant all of those things, but the Lord has shown me that He had so much more in mind.
I don't have to have a name for my ministry nor do I need a title - "speaker, writer, teacher, etc" - my LIFE is the ministry and Christ in me is the Minister.
No matter what your job or career in life, if you are a follower of Christ, you ARE a minister of the gospel and your life is your ministry. Sometimes, our "ministering" to others involves sharing the gospel from God's Word, absolutely, but most of the time, it's far more inconspicuous.
Someone once said, "Preach Jesus, and if necessary use words."
Sometimes it's simply giving up a parking spot to a co-worker when you got there first, and, you're running late. Sometimes it's you praying for a co-worker who is hurting. Maybe it's you opening the door for another person and extending a nice greeting, or encouraging the cashier at your local grocer. Maybe it's paying for someone's lunch, or sending a card in the mail, or sharing an encouraging word at just the right time. Sometimes it's you taking a stand, in truth with love, or simply telling someone about Jesus, when they ask about the hope in you.
If we are "in Christ", we are ministers and we are called to full-time ministry. Wherever whenever...as we go. The whole time I had my business, my husband and I still "did ministry". We served in our church as leaders. We taught and led marriage enrichment classes at our church and other churches for years. I spoke at different churches and other organizations where I shared my testimony, as well as many other things. We met with couples in the evenings at my studio on occasion to counsel them. I didn't need to close my studio so that I could "do ministry", we were doing ministry all along. And I don't share those things to boast about what "we did". By the grace of God alone did we do any of that. I share all of that to make this point - I closed my business out of obedience to what I felt Lord telling me to do, but that was all I knew at the time.
I had no idea that my husband and I would be traveling so much that first year, and that we would be gone more than we were home. But God knew.
I had no idea that because of both our parent's failing health, they would all need us more and more. But God did. Something happened in a friend's life and I felt the Lord telling me to go be with her...for a whole week. Spontaneously. I would never have been able to do that if I had been running a business. I could go on and on. There are too many things to list in hindsight - "Ministry" things that the Lord had planned for me to do once I closed the business.
One thing God has shown me since closing the business, and He has shown me so much and continues to daily, is that truly, His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. And I might add, His definition of "full-time ministry" is quite different than the standard, parochial definition that most people have.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
As Christians, we are called to be ministers of the gospel - the Good news about Jesus Christ. And our job, our "ministry", is to share that with the world around us, as we go. As we live, and move and have our being in Him.
Oswald Chambers said, "If you want to be of use to God, maintain the proper relationship with Jesus Christ by staying focused on Him, and He will make use of you every minute you live - yet you will be unaware, on the conscious level of your life, that you are being used of Him."
You don't have to quit your job or close your business to be in "full-time ministry". Just start ministering wherever you are today. Ask the Lord to help you be a witness unto Christ and a blessing to those around you. He will. If He calls you to change jobs/careers or close your business, then, by all means, do it. But as ministers of the gospel, we can ALL minister right where we are, with what we have, if we are willing.
My hope today is that you are encouraged by realizing for the first time perhaps or maybe being reminded, that indeed you ARE a minister...of the gospel. My hope and prayer is that you will, as Oswald Chambers said, stay focused on Jesus Christ, asking Him to use you wherever and whenever He desires...as you live and move and have your being in Him...on the job or on the city square or in your home. Wherever. Whenever. You ARE in Full-Time ministry ! Now "Go and make disciples."
Father God, I thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ and I thank You for Your Holy Spirit living inside of us. Please remind us, Your children, that we are all called to full-time ministry, and that You want to use us to minister to others as we go, throughout our life on a daily basis. Draw us closer to You every day Lord so that we will hear Your voice leading us and prompting us to minister to other believers, and to the lost and dying world all around us. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen
If you are not a follower of Christ - go to this website to learn more - https://peacewithgod.net